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Student Spotlight: Alexis Drees Makes Her Mark at the Muma College of Business and in Hong Kong

By Keith Morelli

Alexis Drees

TAMPA (August 4, 2017) -- Alexis Drees is wasting no time becoming a citizen of the world, a businesswoman on the cutting edge of international finance and product innovation. And she hasn't even graduated yet.

The senior at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business spent this summer in Hong Kong as an intern for Sage Corps, a selective global entrepreneurship program that sends top college students to study and intern abroad with tech startups.

Drees has been paired with IvySpace as it rolls out a mobile app to Chinese students aspiring to attend Ivy League schools and other top universities in the United States and the United Kingdom.

It's her third stint in the Far East, and the Ohio native's beginning to get a firm grasp of China's complex business market. And she's becoming fluent in Mandarin Chinese, a language she is minoring in at USF.

"It is truly invigorating to be a part of the hectic morning Hong Kong commute and head to an office in which I sit at the same desk as the company's two cofounders," she said. "Through this experience, I have produced meaningful content that has already gone into production.

"IvySpace deals directly with the mainland Chinese market, so our company's goal is to focus on how to market the app to mainland Chinese students and work effectively with the company's Beijing office," she said. "One of the most rewarding tasks that I have worked on this summer was creating a financial model for IvySpace's mobile-app projections. By myself, I created an 'in app purchase revenue model,' calculated sales conversions and measured other projections relating to the mobile-app launch."

All this has caught the attention of the company's cofounder, who told Drees he was going to integrate her work into his investor pitch deck.

"Being able to hone in on my finance concentration to create a real model that investors would actually see," she said, "was extremely rewarding."

Not too shabby for a summer on the road, on the other side of the planet.

Being in Honk Kong for the summer is not all work. She has immersed herself into the culture to gain a full perspective of the people, traditions and customs of the city.

"After having spent significant time in mainland China, it has been interesting to discover firsthand the cultural and political differences between Hong Kong and China," she said. "On hand-over day (July 1), the 20th anniversary of when the British returned Hong Kong to China, I witnessed protests all day from citizens who want Hong Kong to be independent of China.

"One metro stop, in particular, was completely packed with hundreds of protesters voicing concerns about independence from China," she said. "I then realized that many Hong Kongers were still apprehensive about the future of Hong Kong and that the citizens were definitely more divided than I initially thought."

Though Hong Kong is now a part of China, a strong Western influence persists, she said.

"The fast-paced city is filled with commercialization, more luxury shopping malls than anyone could ever need," she said, "and influential expats are everywhere."

China, with its expanding economy and Eastern culture, remains a draw for Drees. Last summer, she studied and earned credits at Ocean University in Qindao, China.

"I still have a deep-rooted connection to mainland China because the rich cultural presence is far more preserved," she said, "and I can really focus on improving my Mandarin there."

Here, at the Muma College of Business, Drees also is leaving a mark. She's been on the dean's list for five consecutive semesters and has maintained a 3.78 grade-point average. She serves as a fourth-year member and vice president of finance for Delta Delta Delta, an organization which has raised over $100,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital during her watch.